This week is Decent Jobs Week. Across the UK, activities and campaigns will be taking place to raise awareness of the millions of workers in the UK who are trapped in low-paid, insecure jobs and who are failing to benefit from the so-called economic recovery.
The exploitation of contract and agency workers on zero-hour contracts and others forms of insecure work is becoming a tragic legacy of this government.
Workers with no regular income earning less than permanent employees. Many earning less than the threshold for statutory sick pay, but not being offered enough hours to qualify for tax credits. Women and young workers disproportionally affected.
All in all, a vicious circle of underemployment and poverty pay.
One of UNISON’s aims this week is to focus attention on the 220,000 care workers in this country who are illegally paid.
These are the people who look after the most vulnerable people in our society, and yet most are on zero-hours or temporary agency contracts where employers cut out paid time wherever they can.
A full day on the job can translate into only a handful of paid hours. As a result, many are illegally paid below the national minimum wage of £6.50 an hour.
The government has made this situation worse by slashing care budgets and failing to name and shame employers found guilty of flouting national minimum wage laws.
Decent Jobs Week is a call for improved rights for workers on zero-hour contracts, equal pay for agency workers and better enforcement of workplace rights for low paid workers. But we must go further.
What we need is a comprehensive investigation by HMRC into the care sector, which takes rogue employers to task and forces them to pay care workers for the money they are legally entitled to.